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NPNF2-03. Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, & Rufinus: Historical Writings
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10 (2). I would not, therefore, have you distress yourself overmuch about these points, nor expose yourself needlessly either to penance or to condemnation. But there is a matter of real importance, as to which I can neither excuse nor defend you; namely, a statement openly made by you which is not only heathenish but beyond all heathenism and impiety—the statement in the treatise which I have mentioned above,29552955    Ep. xxii. c. 20. that God has a mother-in-law. Has anything so profane as this or so impious been said even by any of the heathen poets? It would be a foolish question to ask whether you find anything of the kind in the holy Scriptures. I only ask whether ‘your’ Flaccus or Maro, whether Plautus or Terence, or even whether any writer of Satires among all their unclean and immodest sayings has ever uttered such an outrage against God. No doubt you were led astray by the fact that the girl to whom you addressed the treatise29562956    The word “Dei” has crept in, apparently, wrongly. If it stands the meaning would be, ‘To whom you were teaching the word of God,’ or the allusion may be to Ps. xlv. 10, with which the Letter to Eustochium begins, ‘Hearken O daughter so shall the King desire thy beauty.’ was called the bride of Christ: and hence you thought that her mother according to the flesh might be called the mother-in-law of God. You did not recollect that such things are said not according to the order of the flesh, but according to the grace of the spirit. For a woman is called the bride of Christ because the word of God is united in a kind of mystic wedlock with the human soul. But if the mother of the girl in question is related to Christ by this spiritual connexion, she herself should be called the bride of Christ, not the mother-in-law of God. As it is, you might as well go on to call the father of the girl God’s father-in-law, and her sister his sister-in-law, or to call the girl herself God’s daughter-in-law. The fact is, you were so anxious to appear completely possessed of the eloquence of Plautus or of Cicero, that you forgot that the Apostle speaks of the whole church, parents and children, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, all together, as one virgin or bride, when he says,29572957    2 Cor. xi. 2 “I determined this very thing, to present you as a chaste virgin to one man, which is Christ.” But you boast that you follow not Paul’s but Porphyry’s Introduction, and, since he wrote his impious and sacrilegious books against Christ and against God, you have fallen, through his introduction, into this abyss of blasphemy.


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